Debate Over Role of Taylor Law in Strike
December 15th, 2005
If bus drivers, train conductors and other MTA workers join picket lines just after the stroke of midnight tonight, they could be docked two days’ pay for each day they walk off the job. TWU Local 100 itself could also be heavily fined. That’s because the state’s Taylor Law of 1967 made it illegal for public employees to strike.
The law is “an elephant in the room,” Joshua Freeman, a labor historian at Queens College, told Newsday. That elephant should not only be noticed, it should be strongly supported if it’s going to stand, says Nicole Gelinas in the City Journal. “If New York’s leaders want to continue to rely on the Taylor Law to prevent future strikes, they must stick it out to the end if the TWU walks,” she writes, adding that State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s tough-guy reputation — not to mention his gubernatorial aspirations — could be damaged if the law isn’t enforced. That’s because Spitzer won an injunction in court explicitly banning the strike in order to reinforce the Taylor Law.
The Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka also takes a tough stance. “There’s a reason why the Taylor Law was passed,” says the law student blogger. “When a private company’s employees strike, the only ones harmed are the company and its shareholders. But when public employees strike, everyone is harmed.” A response to the blog entry notes that fines against the union and its members are sometimes dismissed as a condition of the strike resolution.
But the law can still sting. “Workers didn’t know the Taylor Law was as bad as it was,” George McAnanama, a transit union board member during the strike of 1980, told the Daily News. “It hurt when they took out the fines. After the strike, most bosses threw us a little overtime here and there. They didn’t want a disgruntled workforce.”
Yet, you may have noticed, the Taylor Law obviously didn’t prevent that strike.
Some other city employees want the transit workers to take a stand, fines or no fines. “I wish my union membership was as tough in negotiations as the TWU has been,” grumbles the Reality-Based Educator. The Educator echoes frustrations of other municipal union members who are miffed about the results of their leaders’ negotiations with the Bloomberg administration. Many see this as a symbolic battle to regain ground lost by other municipal unions.By Hilary Russ on December 15, 2005, 3:11 pm
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